Concern over cuts in Reserve Force man days

South Africa’s top Reserve Force soldier has warned “significant cuts” in man days for the country’s part-time soldiers could impact negatively on the national border protection tasking Operation Corona. Major General Roy Andersen, Chief Defence Reserves, was speaking after the Defence Reserves Division implementation guidelines for planning and budgeting work session in Durban ahead of Armed Forces Day. He told the session: “The impact of significant cuts in man days available for Reserve call-ups while maintaining a high commitment to Op Corona deployments on the borders has to be a focus”. Reserve Force units currently make up the majority of the 14 companies deployed on border protection and are seen an integral component to the success of the one force projection and employment ethos the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) adheres to. Other Reserve Force specific functions that came up for discussion during the two day work session included an initial design of a new Reserve Service system and assisting Reserve Force soldiers to obtain work with employers “sympathetic” to military and especially part-time service.

The session also, according to Andersen, looked at “supporting the SA Army in communicating and implementing the proposed changes to certain unit names”. The change of names for Reserve Force units was proposed by Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo when he was SA Army Chief. It was seen as part of nation building and improving morale and esprit de corps among Reserve Force soldiers. A number of roadshows and presentations were done to units across the country but to date no announcement has been made of any unit name changes. The planning session also discussed the role of the Reserves in the rural development plan which Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula last year said she wants to see work done on. At present the involvement of the SANDF and especially the Reserve Force is centred on North West in partnership with the provincial government and is centred on agriculture and linked to infrastructure development. It is seen as an indicator of the SANDF’s potential to support development through peacetime activities.

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